Critical issues presentations/Wikipedia, libraries and digitization: establishing links and dealing with the copyright challenges

From Wikimania 2016 • Esino Lario, Italy
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Submission no. 173
Title of the submission

Wikipedia, libraries and digitization: establishing links and dealing with the copyright challenges

Author of the submission
  • Argyri Panezi
Country of origin



other, Outreach, Policy

  • digitization
  • copyright
  • libraries
  • EU
  • orphan works directive

The presentation is meant to target those engaged in policy and legal issues, mainly copyright. Also to librarians. Wary of the copyright challenges, the presentation proposes a strategic collaboration with libraries to directly cite and give access to digitized material.

Legal developments have brought to the forefront the issue of digitization for libraries. Recent case-law from both sides of the Atlantic indicate some possibilities for libraries to digitize works and make use of metadata as well as digitized collections so long as the use is fair or falls under a copyright exception. In the US this has been discussed in the context of the Google Books saga and the relevant litigation (Authors Guild v. HathiTrust and Authors Guild v. Google). In Europe in the context of a recent case before the Court of Justice of the EU (the so-called Ulmer case) as well as the Orphan Works directive which allows certain uses to public interest institutions, including digitization and access.

This presentation will, first, show how these legal developments have changed the dynamics as regards copyright and digitization for libraries. Second, it will discuss how could Wikipedia approach libraries who have or have started digitizing their collections and propose them avenues and innovative methods for providing access to a broad audience using Wikipedia. In that way, libraries that have digitized material to which they can legally give access (freely or under certain specifications) can slowly enrich Wikipedia entries by providing better citations coupled, where possible, with immediate access to content. The presentation will describe the different possibilities depending on the literary works and their respective copyright status. Thus, it will go beyond the case of the public domain works, which do not pose serious copyright difficulties, and look also at copyrighted material, out-of-print and orphan works. With the EU copyright reform underway, the presentation will give a special focus to enhanced possibilities with the EU, particularly in view of the orphan works directive which added a big category next to the public domain works.

The momentum to pay attention to libraries and their contribution to online access to knowledge is important. Libraries have been participating in the discussions for copyright reforms and have are actively searching for ways to adapt to the digital age. I believe that a strategic outreach from Wikipedia, well informed of the possibilities and challenges of copyright laws around key jurisdictions, would result in a fruitful and valuable collaboration. Wikipedia and libraries share the same ideas of public access to knowledge and providing an environment of information commons that is useful for people. Wikipedia can be a driver for change also critically assisting libraries adapt to the digital era.

Wikipedia users around the world will greatly benefit from entries with ever-growing rich references and, what is more, direct access to content (full or partial) or at least metadata linked to specific libraries where they can find the works. In addition, as most library users today are also Wikipedia users giving them the opportunity to connect entries with sources in digital form would be an amazing tool for those who are willing to read more on a topic and then further edit entries as well as add entries linking to their libraries and the collections they used.


Not accepted